A girl of 11 died at a water park birthday party after she went missing on a giant inflatable assault course.
The victim, named by witnesses as Kyra, was supposed to be on the Total Wipeout-style challenge with around ten friends for an hour-long session at 3pm on Saturday.
But the fun turned into ‘complete chaos’ after the mother of one of the children started screaming her name at around 3.40pm. Witnesses yesterday slammed the water park for an alleged lack of an emergency plan and teenage lifeguards ‘not prepared’ to deal with the tragedy.
It is believed Kyra had not returned from the inflatable session, prompting parents and staff to start searching changing rooms at Liquid Leisure, near Datchet, Berkshire. Some children suggested she could not swim and was last seen ‘going underwater’, sparking panic.
A girl of 11 died at a water park birthday party after she went missing on a giant inflatable assault course
Lifeguards were reportedly running all over the obstacles and looking under them
Tearful staff lay flowers after girl, 11 dies in ‘tragic incident’ at water park in Berkshire
The tragic incident too place at the lake by Liquid Leisure in Windsor
Lifeguards sprinted around asking visitors for goggles as they apparently had no diving equipment to search under the inflatables. Emergency services were only called at 3.55pm, while a mother claimed it took staff 20 minutes to clear the lake.
Adults dived in and began frantically searching for the child before police and firefighters arrived and two helicopters were scrambled. Kyra was found at 5.10pm and taken to Wexham Park Hospital – but could not be saved.
Police are now investigating her death, which is being treated as unexplained. Witnesses slammed the ‘monstrosity’ at Liquid Leisure, claiming the teenage lifeguards ‘were not prepared’.
The 11-year-old girl got into difficulty at Liquid Leisure in Datchet (site pictured this morning)
An investigation into how the child tragically died yesterday were still ongoing this morning
James Bull, 25, was among the visitors who tried to find Kyra. ‘It was a complete shambles,’ he told the Mail. ‘I saw the lady shouting for Kyra, then I bumped into a couple of young girls who said they were Kyra’s friends.
‘They showed me a picture and said she was in a black swimsuit and grey footwear. They said she can’t swim and was struggling – then she went under.’
He asked to borrow goggles and jumped in, but said the unclear water made it hard to see. Mr Bull, of Guildford, Surrey, said staff ‘need proper training’.
‘There should also be a limit on the number of people in the pool area,’ he added. ‘How could they not see her go under? Why didn’t they have goggles or diving equipment? There were more adults and parents in the water looking for her than lifeguards, it was a complete joke.’
A witness said the girl was seen going under the water and said that she ‘didn’t come back up…At that point, the lifeguards came running.’
One eyewitness said the child was at Liquid Leisure with a group of friends for a birthday party when she went under the surface
Another visitor, a 32-year-old mother-of-two, said: ‘There didn’t seem to be a single adult in charge. It was horrendous. One of the lifeguards said he didn’t want to get in because he didn’t want to get his trainers wet. Some were screaming to get goggles. I can’t begin to tell you how poorly dealt with it was. The mother was queuing with her friends for the main inflatable course when the woman came over and said she had lost a child. It was surreal. It just got more and more serious, and the place got more and more silent.
‘As a mum, seeing that, you just can’t even begin to imagine what she was going through. It was so horrendous. I am just honestly so angry. There didn’t seem to be an emergency plan.’
Witnesses said there were between 30 and 50 children on the assault course when Kyra went missing. The lake is up to six metres deep in parts – dangerous for non-swimmers. Gavin Springett, who worked at the park last summer on training, said: ‘No corners were ever cut on safety.’
The gates to the leisure park were shut this morning, with numerous ‘CLOSED’ signs placed
The aqua park this morning was shut after the tragic fatal accident yesterday afternoon
He said there were lifeguards on every section of the inflatable course, and that staff are trained monthly on water rescue while buoyancy vests are compulsory on all inflatables, even for adults.
Superintendent Michael Greenwood of Thames Valley Police commended parents who jumped into the lake for their bravery.
In a statement, Liquid Leisure said they would assist police, adding: ‘Our thoughts and prayers are with the family, friends and all those affected by this desperately tragic and upsetting incident.’